Homework is the debut studio album by French electronic music duo Daft Punk, released on 17 January 1997 with Virgin Records. Homework's success brought worldwide attention to French house music. According to The Village Voice, the album revived house music and departed from the Eurodance formula. The duo produced the tracks without plans to release an album. After working on projects that were intended to be separate singles over five months, they considered the material good enough for an album.
Commercially successful, Homework appeared in 14 national charts, peaking at number 150 on the United States Billboard 200 and at number 37 on the Australian Albums Chart. By February 2001, the album had sold more than two million copies worldwide and received several gold and platinum certifications. Overall Homework received positive critical response. The album features singles that had a significant impact in the French house and global dance music scenes. These include the US Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play number-one singles "Da Funk" and "Around the World", the latter of which reached number 61 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 1993 Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo presented a demo of electronic music to Stuart Macmillan of Slam at a rave in EuroDisney. The contents of the cassette eventually saw release on the single "The New Wave", which was released on April 11, 1994 on Slam's Soma Quality Recordings label. The record also contained the final mix of the track "The New Wave" entitled "Alive".
"Da Funk" and "Rollin' & Scratchin'" were released as a single under the Soma label in 1995. The tracks were then utilized by The Chemical Brothers in DJ sets at The Heavenly Social in London. During the same year, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons requested that the duo remix their single "Life Is Sweet" and open for The Chemical Brothers' tour in the United Kingdom. The ensuing popularity of Daft Punk's singles led to their signing with Virgin Records in September 1996. Their departure from Soma was noted by Richard Brown of the Glasgow-based label. "We were obviously sad to lose them to Virgin but they had the chance to go big, which they wanted, and it's not very often that a band has that chance after two singles. We're happy for them."
Although Virgin held exclusive distribution rights over Daft Punk’s material, the duo remain the owners of their master recordings through the Daft Trax label. Bangalter expressed that "To be free, we had to be in control. To be in control, we had to finance what we were doing ourselves. The main idea was to be free." Daft Punk discussed their method with Spike Jonze, director of the "Da Funk" music video. He noted that "They were doing everything based on how they wanted to do it. As opposed to, 'oh we got signed to this record company, we gotta use their plan.' They wanted to make sure they never had to do anything that would make them feel bummed on making music." In regards to the duo's creative control and freedom, Bangalter said:
|“||We've got much more control than money. You can't get everything. We live in a society where money is what people want, so they can't get the control. We chose. Control is freedom. People say we're control freaks, but control is controlling your destiny without controlling other people. We're not trying to manipulate other people, just controlling what we do ourselves. Controlling what we do is being free. People should stop thinking that an artist that controls what he does is a bad thing. A lot of artists today are just victims, not having control, and they're not free. And that's pathetic. If you start being dependent on money, then money has to reach a point to fit your expenses.||”|
Daft Punk worked to record other tracks, including "Revolution 909" and "Around the World". The album was mixed and recorded in their own studio, Daft House in Paris, France. It was mastered by Nilesh Patel at the London studio The Exchange.
Virgin re-released "Da Funk" with the B-side "Musique" in 1996, before the debut of Homework. Bangalter later stated that the B-side "was never intended to be on the album, and in fact, 'Da Funk' as a single has sold more units than Homework, so more people own it anyways than they would if it had been on the album. It is basically used to make the single a double-feature."
Daft Punk produced the tracks included in Homework without a plan to release an album. Bangalter stated, "It was supposed to be just a load of singles. But we did so many tracks over a period of five months that we realized that we had a good album." The duo set the order of the tracks to cover the four sides of a two-disc vinyl LP. De Homem-Christo remarked, "There was no intended theme because all the tracks were recorded before we arranged the sequence of the album. The idea was to make the songs better by arranging them the way we did; to make it more even as an album." The name Homework, Bangalter explained, relates to "the fact that we made the record at home, very cheaply, very quickly, and spontaneously, trying to do cool stuff."
"Daftendirekt" is an excerpt of a live performance recorded at the first I Love Techno party in Ghent, Belgium. It served as the introduction to Daft Punk's live shows and was used to begin the album. Janet Jackson sampled "Daftendirekt" on her song "So Much Betta", which was included in her tenth studio album, Discipline, in 2008. Homework's following track, "WDPK 83.7 FM", is a tribute to FM radio in the US. The next song, "Revolution 909" is a reflection on the French government's stance on dance music.
"Revolution 909" is followed by "Da Funk", which carries elements of funk and acid music. According to Andrew Asch of the Boca Raton News, the song's composition "relies on a bouncy funk guitar to communicate its message of dumb fun." Bangalter expressed that "Da Funk"'s theme involved the introduction of a simple, unusual element that becomes acceptable and moving over time. Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine complimented the song as "unrelenting", and Bob Gajarsky of Westnet called it "a beautiful meeting of Chic (circa "Good Times", sans vocals) and the 90s form of electronica." The song appeared on the soundtrack for the 1997 film The Saint and was placed at number 18 on Pitchfork Media's "Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s" list. "Phoenix" combines elements of gospel music and house music. The duo considered "Fresh" to be breezy and light with a comical structure. Ian Mathers of Stylus Magazine criticized the song, stating that it "doesn’t feel like the beach just because of the lapping waves heard in the background."
The single "Around the World" carries influences of Gershon Kingsley's hit "Popcorn". Its music video was directed by the Academy Award-winning French filmmaker Michel Gondry, who compared the track's bassline to that of "Good Times" by Chic. Chris Power of BBC Music named it "one of the decade’s catchiest singles". He stated that it was "a perfect example of Daft Punk’s sound at its most accessible: a post-disco boogie bassline, a minimalist sprinkling of synthetic keyboard melody and a single, naggingly insistent hook." Ian Mathers of Stylus Magazine commented that "there is no way you’d want to have a Homework without 'Around The World'." The track "Teachers" is a tribute to several of Daft Punk's house music influences, including future collaborators Romanthony, DJ Sneak and Todd Edwards. The song "Oh Yeah" features DJ Deelat and DJ Crabbe. "Indo Silver Club" features a sample of "Hot Shot" by Karen Young. Prior to its inclusion on Homework, "Indo Silver Club" was released as a single on the Soma Quality Recordings label in two parts. The single lacked an artist credit in the packaging and was thought to have been created by the nonexistent producers Indo Silver Club. The final track, "Funk Ad", is a reversed clip of "Da Funk".
|2.||"WDPK 83.7 FM"||0:28|
|7.||"Around the World"||7:09|
|8.||"Rollin' & Scratchin'"||7:28|
|11.||"Rock 'N Roll"||7:33|
|14.||"Indo Silver Club"||4:34|
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|Daft Punk albums|
Homework (1997) •
Discovery (2001) •
Human After All (2005) •
Random Access Memories (2013)